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Technologies in
“Small” Museums
   Common Problems/Innovative Solutions




  Museum Computer Network Annual Conference, N...
Moderator
David Farrell, Collections Coordinator, Peel Heritage Complex
david.farrell@peelregion.ca

Melissa Holbert Kinkl...
Definition of a “small” museum:
 ◦ The three example highlighted here may be
   considered on the larger end.
 ◦ Themes ar...
Themes:
 • Technology being used to support mission and
   better deliver programming.
 • All these examples use widely av...
The Smart as “small museum”:

              university museum with 11,000 objects
              from all periods of art, b...
A few recent/ongoing technology projects:


                  project specific websites



                  TMS/eMuseum c...
Even when . . .

 a new technology is within mission and budget,
   do staff and board members embrace it?


 institutiona...
Tech Team Actions:

 Research best practices in nonprofit use of information
 technologies and recommend solutions

 Estab...
Basecamp Online
Project Manager

www.basecamphq.com




Solution:
interdepartmental technology team
Issues addressed:                           Results:


    Inconsistent plan or agreement for   SLA negotiated to meet ind...
The National Postal Museums as “small museum”:
                         Presents the history of the
                      ...
Ongoing project:
                                  Arago

                           Public accessible online
            ...
Ongoing project:
                          The Ford Education Center

                           5 computer kiosks on
    ...
How can you take the lead on
       a technology project?




Challenge:
Authority
Common sense:

 Be professional

 Reach out

 Start small


Solution:
Be the best project manager you can be
Good practices

 Track and documenting everything

 Communicate

 Spiral Project Planning



Solution:
Be the best project...
Evaluate       Design




                    Test          Build

 Spiral Project Planning


Solution:
Be the best projec...
Avoid classic mistakes

 Failure to accurately estimate time and
 resources

 Failure to ensure that roles-and-
 responsib...
How to lead without any real technology
 background?

 Learn how to let go

 Have a team you can trust



Solution:
Be the...
Celebrate and document your success!




Solution:
Be the best project manager you can be
Staff of 30-40 (more mid-
    size)
    Staff of one for technology
    Young technology
    initiatives (only 2 years)
  ...
Chris’s website: www.chris-alexander.com
How many of you here feel like you work in a “small” museum?

 In your own experience, how prevalent is early adoption of ...
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Small Museum and Technology: Common Challenges, Innovative solutions

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David Farrell, Melissa Kinkley, Chris Alexander and I I gave this presentation at the Museum Computer Network\'s conference in DC in the fall of 2008. Significant challenges face smaller museums working
with new technologies; beyond the cost barrier, these
include gaining institutional buy-in, effectively managing
workflows, properly informing and training staff, and
overcoming staff-time and expertise limitations. Panelists
from several small and medium-sized museums did present
innovative technology planning and implementation
strategies generated within their institutions. Whether
forming collaborative staff teams, using open-source
software solutions, or beginning to explore free and existing
Web 2.0 applications, learn how smaller museums are
helping to re-define best practices in the field.

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Transcript of "Small Museum and Technology: Common Challenges, Innovative solutions"

  1. 1. Technologies in “Small” Museums Common Problems/Innovative Solutions Museum Computer Network Annual Conference, November 13, 2008
  2. 2. Moderator David Farrell, Collections Coordinator, Peel Heritage Complex david.farrell@peelregion.ca Melissa Holbert Kinkley, Manager of New Media & Family Interpretation, Smart Museum of Art, University of Chicago mhk@uchicago.edu Aurelie Henry, Special Projects Coordinator, National Postal Museum HenryA@si.edu Chris Alexander, Manager of Interactive Technology, San Jose Museum of Art calexander@sjmusart.org Panelists
  3. 3. Definition of a “small” museum: ◦ The three example highlighted here may be considered on the larger end. ◦ Themes are common to even some “micro” museums. Introduction – David Farrell
  4. 4. Themes: • Technology being used to support mission and better deliver programming. • All these examples use widely available applications. • The impetus came from staff or individual administrators. Introduction – David Farrell
  5. 5. The Smart as “small museum”: university museum with 11,000 objects from all periods of art, but with concentrated holdings of mid-century modern, contemporary, and East Asian art about 20 full-time staff; none dedicated to IT located 6 miles south of downtown Chicago, in close proximity to many of the city’s largest museums Melissa Kinkley, Smart Museum of Art, University of Chicago
  6. 6. A few recent/ongoing technology projects: project specific websites TMS/eMuseum collections database cell phone audio interpretation research Melissa Kinkley, Smart Museum of Art, University of Chicago
  7. 7. Even when . . . a new technology is within mission and budget, do staff and board members embrace it? institutional support is high, who is accountable for project management? Challenge: acceptance and accountability
  8. 8. Tech Team Actions: Research best practices in nonprofit use of information technologies and recommend solutions Establish and maintain relationships and Service Level Agreements (SLAs) with third party technology vendors Provide leadership support to Museum staff regarding technology issues Solution: interdepartmental technology team
  9. 9. Basecamp Online Project Manager www.basecamphq.com Solution: interdepartmental technology team
  10. 10. Issues addressed: Results: Inconsistent plan or agreement for SLA negotiated to meet individual users • desktop leasing and support and needs; reduced cost of leasing by 25%; MS calendaring Outlook integrated calendaring and unclear support for •Inconsistent SLA negotiated to provide full, clear, TMS database and database maintenance and hosting of communication between •Lack RFP for combined main website re- depts/missed opportunities design and eMuseum customization Technology now a recognized of tech project visibility at high •Lack priority in upcoming strategic planning level decision-making and interpretive strategy creation. Solution: interdepartmental technology team
  11. 11. The National Postal Museums as “small museum”: Presents the history of the nation’s mail service and the largest collection of stamps in the world about 40 full-time staff 2 websites Located a couple blocks from the Capitol, the Newseum, the National Building Museum and the National Mall Aurélie Henry, National Postal Museum, Smithsonian Institution
  12. 12. Ongoing project: Arago Public accessible online database of NPM’s collections. User-compatible front-end, TMS compatible back-end. Development team: Interdepartmental team (curatorial, exhibits, educators, collections…) Project manager Maintenance team: 3 full time positions with clear responsibilities and assignments Aurélie Henry, National Postal Museum, Smithsonian Institution
  13. 13. Ongoing project: The Ford Education Center 5 computer kiosks on museum floor to reinforce museum visit and promote our online assets. Development team: A junior educator as project manager Interdepartmental team (curatorial, exhibits, educators, collections…) Maintenance team: None Aurélie Henry, National Postal Museum, Smithsonian Institution
  14. 14. How can you take the lead on a technology project? Challenge: Authority
  15. 15. Common sense: Be professional Reach out Start small Solution: Be the best project manager you can be
  16. 16. Good practices Track and documenting everything Communicate Spiral Project Planning Solution: Be the best project manager you can be
  17. 17. Evaluate Design Test Build Spiral Project Planning Solution: Be the best project manager you can be
  18. 18. Avoid classic mistakes Failure to accurately estimate time and resources Failure to ensure that roles-and- responsibilities are adequately defined and distributed Solution: Be the best project manager you can be
  19. 19. How to lead without any real technology background? Learn how to let go Have a team you can trust Solution: Be the best project manager you can be
  20. 20. Celebrate and document your success! Solution: Be the best project manager you can be
  21. 21. Staff of 30-40 (more mid- size) Staff of one for technology Young technology initiatives (only 2 years) Everything done in-house with no 3rd party involvement Challenge: Distributing content with one person Solution: Using affordable technology and smart production workflows to repurpose content on web 2.0 platforms Chris Alexander, San Jose Museum of Art
  22. 22. Chris’s website: www.chris-alexander.com
  23. 23. How many of you here feel like you work in a “small” museum? In your own experience, how prevalent is early adoption of appropriate technologies in your institution? How can we best share our successes? Questions for audience 23

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